Commercial Awareness. Everyone says that they don’t quite know what it is. In fact, it’s become a cliche to say that there is no definitive answer to what the term ‘Commercial Awareness’ means. On the contrary, however, I think it’s actually quite straightforward and I’m going to tell you how to become a Commercially Aware pro.
So first let’s start with what Commercial Awareness means. Yes, it’s about knowing what’s going on in the world and the news, but it’s also a lot more than. It’s about understanding how what is going on will affect the commercial world, that being business and obviously law firms. That means you should be paying special attention to the economic and political news, as these tend to have the largest impacts on the commercial world, but of course, other types of news will also affect business.
So as you can see there are two things you need to be able to do in order to have a good Commercial Awareness. The first is simply known the news and keep on top of it. The second is to be able to analyze this news and understand its commercial consequences. Here are a few easy ways to improve all of these.
The Economist 📈
This is my first port of call. It’s a reliable and neutral new source, that going to deliver all the commercial and business news, regarding anything and everything. Reading this once a day, or once every other day is one of the best ways to get a basic understanding of what’s going on and some idea of how it will affect the commercial world. Most of the articles include analysis of how the business world will be affected, the articles are all also really easy to read and understand.
The Financial Times 💰
This is essentially the more advanced version of The Economist, and it’s where I head to, after going through the economist. Basically, a lot of what you read on this website won’t make too much sense to you, and a lot of it is actually too advanced for the level of knowledge we need for Commercial Awareness. They way I utilized the FT, is if I find a few things I’m really interested in from the Economist, then I’ll follow them up on the FT. This means I gain a deeper understanding of the particular issue, and because I’m both interested in it and have read the Economist article first, I’m more likely to understand the FT article.
Apple News 🍎
As I’ve said before, this is my go top general news app, but it also tailors itself to what you like. You can choose the news sources and topics that you want it to cover and then it will create a feed of stories for you to swipe through. As I said in my ‘Smart Phone, Smart You’ post, I’ve chosen a few main papers, such as the guardian, telegraph, economist, FT, BBC etc, and in fairly prominent areas, such the economy, politics, law/judiciary, environment and technology.
Again, I also spoke about this app in my ‘Smart Phone, Smart You’ article. To sum it up again, Flipboard curates articles into categories or topics that you set. Thus, for me, it’s a great way to keep up with the news of specific firms. I can create a category for a firm, by using its name, and Flipboard then pulls all articles relating to that firm and tucks them into the folder. Thus, it’s a great way not only to see articles from the firm itself about its work and what’s affecting them but also to see anywhere that they have been mentioned within the news, thus allowing you to gain a better insight into current legal news, both generally and firm specifically.
Lawyer2Be / LegalCheek / Guardian Law 🏙
There are also really greats websites, specifically focused towards Law Undergrads and their commercial awareness, such as Lawyer2Be and LegalCheek. They’re great places to find relevant and tailored information, specifically for what you need to know. They provide really basic articles, giving a very generalized commercial awareness, but do not rely on these alone. Firstly, they only focus on really prominent Commercial Awareness topics, meaning there will be a lot of things that they won’t report on, and secondly, the articles are no massively in depth. They are often very general and simple, and definitely will not give you the amount of depth you need to fully understand whatever it is the article covers. Nonetheless, they are still a good way to cover some basics or to find a quick read if you have a spare ten minutes.